Monday, May 09, 2005

Rage

We are full of rage. At least we all seem to be right now. I'm included in this one. Lately I have been on the verge of beating my neighbor. Last Friday he was out yelling and making noise at 3:30am. I walked out onto my front porch and pointed out the time to him. He yelled some expletives and said something about me waking him up at 7am. I can asure everyone that I am rarely up and never making a peep at 7am. His friends then drove down the street honking their horn the whole way. It was 3:30 am! I wouldn't have gotten out of bed at midnight even if he woke me up, but 3:30am is ridiculous. I didn't sleep the rest of the night I was so upset. I stared at the ceiling all night plotting ways to get away with murdering him. The next day I went over with the idea of talking to him but the thought of beating him was also present. He wasn't there, but his roommate was and said they'd come over and talk to me about it. Over a week later and I haven't heard from him. The next night he woke up my wife and my visiting Mom at 3:15am when he drove home so drunk he had to be carried into his house. One of the frustrating things is that as a homeowner I care about my neighborhood, but since he is just a renter he doesn't care and their is very little I can do without pissing him off and starting some kind of neighborhood war. If I call the cops for a noise violation I'll wake up and find my car has been keyed.

Also while my parents were in town we walked up to a local restaurant for dinner. After dinner we walked to the grocery store to pick up some ice cream. While at the store Jen and I were waiting in the self checkout line and my Mom and Dad (in their mid 60's and as harmless as people can be) decided they would get out of crowded line and walk to the front of the store to wait for us to complete our purchase. A young man in front of us started saying some rude expletives to MY MOM. She may or may not have bumped him with her purse or maybe he thought she was taking cuts in line. Whatever happened it wasn't blatant and wasn't clear to me until my Mom walked up to him and apologized for whatever she did that upset him. Then my Dad spoke to him and asked him if he had a problem. My 67 year old Dad was challenging this kid that wasn't more than 25. It was complete insanity and I didn't even realize what had happened until we were out of the store. My helpless Mom was not challenging this kid at all yet he felt the need to swear at her for who knows what reason.

What can you do with these people? You can only suck up the rage you feel towards them for so long before you get all COPS on them and they are dragging you off to city jail without your shirt and shoes.

Then today Jen was pulling up in front of our house and was about to parallel park. She pulled just ahead of the parking space and put her turn signal on to identify to the car behind her that she was pulling in. The car then sped around her yelling "Bitch" at her. Jen said the car had children in it too. What was this guy so mad about? She had done nothing wrong. It was maybe a 10 second delay in his day while she backed in? Why did he have to bring his rage into our lives and the lives of the children in his car?

Is there something bigger going on here? Is the whole country on edge about the state of the world? Is time so precious to us now that we can't wait 10 seconds? Are we so inconsiderate that we treat neighbors like a random driver on the road that we don't expect to see again? Have we just lost our manners?

That kid in the grocery store should have excused himself for being in the way even if my Mom had bumped into him. My neighbor should have apologized if he had lost track of the time and learned that it was 3:30am and not 3:30pm when he was yelling out in the street. That guy in the car should have given Jen a friendly wave as he safely drove by after it was all clear.

How do we dispell our daily collection of rage without hurting others? This is getting seriously unpleasant.

2 comments:

It's Lisa, y'all said...

Mike, this was a really interesting post. I also feel an unwarranted rage inside me at times. Just tonight, there was a little kid (6 or 7 years old) outside screaming at the top of his lungs for over an hour. At first, when I walked out on my porch to see what the hell was going on, it looked like maybe his older sister was teasing him or something. He was making a crying-scream that also had a real anger at the base of it (or was I "projecting"?). Interestingly enough, he mother (or someone grown-up) was sitting on the ground right beside him talking on her cell phone and not intervening at all. I figured that I could put up with it for a little longer. It was almost 8 p.m. and surely this couldn't continue much longer. Nope, he honestly kept up a pretty rhythmic and consistent screaming for an hour. It just stopped a few minutes ago. For the last half hour, it seemed like he was just screaming as high and as loud as he could for the fun of it. I thought that surely his parents would intervene. I live in an apartment complex and at least 30 apartments are in very close range to this screaming child. But I never heard him get yelled at or spanked. Many images of intervention were going through my head, but I felt so angry that his parents were letting him get away with this that there was probably no way for me to interact with him or his parents in a civilized fashion. So I put on headphones and turned up my music as loud as I possibly could.

The times when I feel most angry are while driving and while working on the computer (if it is not doing something fast enough or is having issues). In my opinion, the rage is based on two things (1) a feeling of being out of control in the situation, and (2) being in a state of mind where I feel personally "maxed out." In many ways, I see an outward display of rage as a temper tantrum for grown-ups. It's a very immature way to handle any situation, yet sometimes it is very effective if the people you are raging at are at all passive (just like how a spoiled kid with passive parents gets whatever s/he wants). So people who yell, honk, swear, and show other forms of rage are sometimes rewarded when we look embarrassed, get out of their way, apologize, or back down.

In my perfect world, I'd like to be the Nanny 911 to all these crazy people, but I'm too on-edge myself to do that, so I usually back down. I think it's the "bigger" thing to do, but it usually just creates internal conflict instead of external conflict and I don't think I'm any better off for it (except I get in a lot fewer fist-fights).

My personal coping mechanism is to not go out when I'm feeling grumpy, to give myself a lot of alone time, and to try to get enough sleep and work off negative energy by exercising.

One last thing: I also think that as a society we are so disconnected with each other that we are unable to relate to other people, put ourselves in their place, and cut them some slack. I try to do this when someone is being just a straight-up evil person. I imagine some really, really horrible thing that happened to them that made them the way they are today. Then I just feel sorry for them and that cuts the anger for me.

I sometimes fantasize about hiring a hitman if the person is really awful.

Good luck with this one. If you come up with any great tactics, let me know.

337is said...

Alright so I’m going to lighten this up a bit by suggesting you become a costumed vigilante and I think Miraculous Mike might be the perfect name…a cape is not advised.

Actually your post got me thinking so much I decided to post a reaction on my blog...you can find it here:

http://337is.blogspot.com/2005/05/heap-hot-coals.html